More to Explore in Five-Year-Old Mars Rover's Future
Five years since it landed near Mount Sharp on Mars in August 2017 and nearly three years since reaching the base of the mountain, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is climbing toward multiple layers of Mount Sharp visible in this view from the rover's Mast Camera.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, which landed near Mount Sharp five years ago this week, is examining clues on that mountain about long-ago lakes on Mars.

On Aug. 5, 2012, the mission team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, exalted at radio confirmation and first images from Curiosity after the rover's touchdown using a new "sky crane" landing method. Transmissions at the speed of light took nearly 14 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, which that day were about 154 million miles (248 million kilometers) apart.





Those first images included a view of Mount Sharp. The mission accomplished its main goal in less than a year, before reaching the mountain. It determined that an ancient lake environment on this part of Mars offered the conditions needed for life -- fresh water, other key chemical ingredients and an energy source.





On Mount Sharp since 2014, Curiosity has examined environments where both water and wind have left their marks. Having studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock with signs of lakes and later groundwater, Curiosity's international science team concluded that habitable conditions lasted for at least millions of years. With higher destinations ahead, Curiosity will continue exploring how this habitable world changed through time. For more about the mission, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov/msl

  • Five years since it landed near Mount Sharp on Mars in August 2017 and nearly three years since reaching the base of the mountain, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is climbing toward multiple layers of Mount Sharp visible in this view from the rover's Mast Camera.

    Five years since it landed near Mount Sharp on Mars in August 2017 and nearly three years since reaching the base of the mountain, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is climbing toward multiple layers of Mount Sharp visible in this view from the rover's Mast Camera. Full image and caption are here.

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  • Two sizes of ripples are evident in this Dec. 13, 2015, view of a top of a Martian sand dune, from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. Sand dunes and the smaller type of ripples also exist on Earth.  The larger ripples are a type not seen on Earth nor previously recognized as a distinct type on Mars.

    Two sizes of wind-sculpted ripples are evident in this view of the top surface of a Martian sand dune. Sand dunes and the smaller type of ripples also exist on Earth. The larger ripples -- roughly 10 feet (3 meters) apart -- are a type not seen on Earth nor previously recognized as a distinct type on Mars.

    The Mast Camera (Mastcam) ... more

  • This view of a Martian rock slab called "Old Soaker," which has a network of cracks that may have originated in drying mud, comes from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. It was taken on Dec. 20, 2016. The slab is about 4 feet long.

    This view of a Martian rock slab called "Old Soaker," which has a network of cracks that may have originated in drying mud, comes from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.

    The location is within an exposure of Murray formation mudstone on lower Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater. Mud cracks would be ev... more

  • This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from Aug. 5, 2015, shows the vehicle above the "Buckskin" rock target in the "Marias Pass" area of lower Mount Sharp. The MAHLI camera on Curiosity's robotic arm took dozens of images that were stitched together into this sweeping panorama.

    This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle above the "Buckskin" rock target, where the mission collected its seventh drilled sample. The site is in the "Marias Pass" area of lower Mount Sharp.

    The scene combines dozens of images taken by Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager... more

  • Clear Views on Mars

    This image comparison shows a view through a Hazard-Avoidance camera on NASA's Curiosity rover before and after the clear dust cover was removed. Both images were taken by a camera at the front of the rover. Mount Sharp, the mission's ultimate destination, looms ahead.

    The view on the left, with the dust cover on, is one quarte... more

  • This artist's concept depicts the moment that NASA's Curiosity rover touches down onto the Martian surface.

    This artist's concept depicts the moment that NASA's Curiosity rover touches down onto the Martian surface.

    The entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase of the Mars Science Laboratory mission begins when the spacecraft reaches the Martian atmosphere, about 81 miles (131 kilometers) above the surface of the Gale crater landing area, a... more

  • The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team in the MSL Mission Support Area react after learning the the Curiosity rove has landed safely on Mars and images start coming in at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Mars, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 in Pasadena, Calif. The MSL Rover named Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.

    The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team in the MSL Mission Support Area react after learning the the Curiosity rove has landed safely on Mars and images start coming in at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Mars, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 in Pasadena, Calif. The MSL Rover named Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment abl... more

  • This early 2017 look ahead from the Mastcam of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover includes four geological layers to be examined by the mission, and higher reaches of Mount Sharp beyond the planned study area. "Vera Rubin Ridge" sits just above the reddish foreground rocks of the Murray formation.

    This look ahead from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover includes four geological layers to be examined by the mission, and higher reaches of Mount Sharp beyond the planned study area.

    The redder rocks of the foreground are part of the Murray formation. Pale gray rocks in the middle distance of the right half of the image are in the Clay ... more



Guy Webster

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-354-6278

guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown

NASA Headquarters, Washington

202-358-1077 / 202-358-1726

laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov / dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

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